Tom Layberger

Arresting Development

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Rough spring for many players

Monday, May 21, 2012

Forget about the problems caused by injuries and lack of depth. While those realities of college football keep coaches awake at night, keeping players out of trouble is another and much larger issue.

Instead of a spring devoted to improving their stock and working to be the best player or team leader they can be, the players below -- glamour position players whose performance could have (and may still) warranted plenty of notes on this site in 2012 -- found themselves in trouble with the law or, at the very least, not conforming to university standards. The consequences are felt by the teams as coaching staffs are left to shuffle the depth chart for at least a game or two at the start of the season. Then there is the hurt and/or embarrassment these players are inflicting upon themselves and universities.

Mike Bellamy
Clemson, RB
A highly-regarded recruit, Bellamy saw some playing time as a freshman last season (343 yards, 3 TDs) backing up starter Andre Ellington. However, after appearing in each of the Tigers’ regular season games, discipline issues cost him the ACC title game and the Orange Bowl. Now, his career at Clemson is over thanks to his inability to handle the requisite academic requirements. The Tigers are thin at the position, which means freshman Zac Brooks could develop into Ellington’s primary backup.   

Corbin Berkstresser
Missouri, QB
Berkstresser was charged with hit and run after he slammed into a parked car and took off. The offense is a felony and, according to university police, the backup QB cannot return to the playing field until felonies are resolved. That should be done rather simply and then the school/team will discipline as it sees fit. If that includes sitting out a game or two, which is likely, junior Ashton Glaser could serve as starter James Franklin’s backup. This is where it could get interesting. With Franklin out following shoulder surgery, Berkstresser was Mizzou’s No. 1 QB during the spring. Franklin is slated to be back and ready for the season, but he may not be entirely ready for the start of preseason practice. And if there is any setback…..

Ralph Bolden
Purdue, RB
The most unfortunate part about Bolden’s arrest for suspicion of public intoxication is that he worked so hard to get back in top game shape after missing last year's Little Caesars Bowl with a torn right ACL. His offense was more of the “time to grow up” variety, but it’s still likely to cost him a couple of games at the start of the season. Akeem Shavers will likely pick up the slack as he did in the bowl when he ran for 149 yards on 22 carries in a win over Western Michigan.

Antavian Edison
Purdue, WR
Yep, a couple of key Boilermakers ran afoul of the law this spring. In Edison’s case, much has to be learned and sorted out as far as the charges and ultimately how this will affect his immediate future with the team following his arrest for possessing a concealed weapon. The receiver is going to be a senior in the fall and is coming off a productive 2011. Edison led the Boilermakers with 584 receiving yards on 44 catches a year ago. No other returning receiver had as many as 400 yards last year. (Another receiver, O.J. Ross, appears to clearing up academic issues that date to last year.)

Montel Harris
Boston College, RB
Multiple violations of team rules cost Harris what would have been his final season. That truly is unfortunate as Harris battled through knee injuries the past couple of years. Although he was shut down for the spring after re-injuring his left knee, he was hopeful of returning in the fall. Instead of a potential one-two punch with Rolandan Finch, who ran for a team-leading 705 yards last season, Harris exits as the Eagles' all-time leading rusher with 3,735 yards, including a career-high 1,457 in 2009.

Tommy Rees
Notre Dame, QB
Rees started 12 games last season and threw for 2,871 yards and 20 touchdowns, but it was not automatic he would be the clear-cut No. 1 heading into 2012. It is coach Brian Kelly’s desire to see how things play out in preseason drills after Rees battled Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson and Gunner Kiel during the spring. Rees’ bout of immaturity likely opened the door very wide for any of the other three to make a statement and grab the top job, or at least be 1A on the depth chart. Depending on how things play out with the law and any ensuing internal discipline, Kelly may at least have a new starting QB for the opener in Ireland against Navy.

Jaz Reynolds, Kameel Jackson, Trey Franks
Oklahoma, WRs
Academic issues and general immaturity have plagued the trio during their tenures in Norman. So much so that it would not be shocking if one was no longer a part of the program by the time the season kicks off. We’ll see. With Ryan Broyles in the NFL, there was an opportunity for either of them to step up and become a key cog among the receivers with Kenny Stills. Reynolds (41-715-5) and Franks (22-196-0) were expected to be starters while Jackson (12-165-0) announced he was transferring to Texas A&M only to reveal he is going nowhere. It’s a mess.

Marquel Wade
Arkansas, WR
Wade was expected to step up in his sophomore season to help ease the loss of a couple of key receivers. He still may, but a price is sure to be paid before he can take the field again following his arrest for burglary. As a freshman last season, Wade caught eight passes for 62 yards (all in the first five games) and averaged 25.5 yards on 14 kick returns. Speaking of kick returns, Wade made himself known throughout the SEC last season by drilling a Vandy punt returner before he caught the ball. Wade celebrated the hit that earned him an ejection.

Sammy Watkins
Clemson, WR
The ACC’s freshman of the year and one of the nation’s most dynamic players was arrested on drug charges, including possession of marijuana, earlier this month. Coach Dabo Swinney was adamant that he will take action. Two games? Three games? Regardless, Watkins will be missed dearly on offense and special teams. He totaled 2,288 all-purpose yards last year. The Tigers open with Auburn in Atlanta.

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